Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pain research using electronic diaries helps identify who responds to ’placebo effect’

23.11.2005


Study among people with fibromyalgia suggests those with greater swings in pain hour-to-hour, day-to-day are more likely to respond to placebos



Studies involving people who suffer from chronic pain often give some of them placebos, "sugar pills" with no medicinal value, to show whether the treatment has real value. Little is known, however, about the types of people who tend to respond positively to placebos, a mystery that places a hurdle before researchers who want to learn the best way to treat people’s pain.

A new study by researchers at the University of Michigan Health System sheds some light on one group of people that seems to experience the "placebo effect." The researchers found that people with one type of chronic pain who have greater swings in their pain fluctuations tend to be more likely to respond to placebos.


The study of people with fibromyalgia – a type of chronic pain affecting several million people that typically involves tenderness, stiffness and fatigue – appears in the current edition of the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism.

"There is substantial evidence that the placebo effect has strong biological underpinnings, and that some individuals are more likely than others to demonstrate this effect," says Daniel J. Clauw, M.D., director of the U-M Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center and professor of rheumatology at the U-M Medical School.

"This study suggests that individuals with greater hour-to-hour and day-to-day variability in their pain may be more likely to be placebo responders," says Clauw, senior author of the paper. "When such individuals are placed in clinical trials of new interventions, the strong placebo effect they experience can make it difficult to determine if there is a superimposed effect of the treatment being tested."

"This finding is important because so far, nobody has been able to fingerprint placebo responders," adds Richard A. Harris, Ph.D., lead author of the paper, research investigator in the Division of Rheumatology at the U-M Medical School’s Department of Internal Medicine and a researcher at the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center. "The research is helping us gain a better understanding of who responds to placebos. That’s especially important to the research community as we design clinical trials."

It is not clear if these findings are only present in fibromyalgia, or may also be seen in other chronic pain conditions, the researchers said.

Each of the 125 participants in the study carried a Palm-based electronic diary and was prompted at random intervals to record his or her pain level. Participants were prompted on average about three and a half times per day.

The patients who were enrolled in a multicenter drug trial of the anti-depressant milnacipran versus a placebo. Some of the participants experienced a large range of pain variability, while others experienced pain at fairly constant levels.

Those whose pain levels varied widely were more likely to respond to the placebo. They were not, the researchers found, necessarily more likely to respond to milnacipran, which suggests that high pain variability may be a predictor of a placebo response.

"These results have direct implications for drug trials in fibromyalgia and perhaps broader implications for other pain syndromes," the researchers note.

The researchers also found that the electronic recording of pain levels was much more accurate than earlier pencil-and-paper recordings. The electronic system contained a time stamp when the participants recorded the data, removing some of the uncertainty and inaccuracy that often accompanied pencil-and-paper diaries.

Fibromyalgia is a common condition that affects 2 to 4 percent of the U.S. population and is more commonly diagnosed in women. Clauw and his colleagues at the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center are conducting extensive research into the causes and treatments of fibromyalgia.

For more about the U-M Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center, go to www.med.umich.edu/painresearch. For more about other recent research at U-M related to pain and the placebo effect, go to www.med.umich.edu/opm/newspage/2005/placebo.htm.

In addition to Clauw and Harris, other authors of the study were David A. Williams, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry at the U-M Medical School, director of research development within the Center for the Advancement of Clinical Research at U-M and co-director of the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center; Samuel A. McLean, M.D., lecturer in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the U-M Medical School; Ananda Sen, Ph.D., associate research scientist at the U-M Center for Statistical Consultation and Research; Richard H. Gracely, Ph.D., professor of internal medicine and neurology at the U-M Medical School and co-director of the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center; Michael Hufford, Ph.D., of Amylin Pharmaceuticals, San Diego, Calif.; and R. Michael Gendreau, M.D., of Cypress Bioscience, San Diego, Calif.

Katie Gazella | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umich.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Millions through license revenues
27.04.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht New High-Performance Center Translational Medical Engineering
26.04.2017 | Fraunhofer ITEM

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>